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Alternative solutions sought for worsening metro traffic

By: Nestle Semilla, Vanessa Claire Lucero, Victor Anthony V. Silva February 15,2016 - 10:25 PM
Officers and engineers of the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) are scheduled to replace the rotten steel bar support of their main pipe under the sidewalk of the old Mandaue-Mactan Bridge. The pipe supplies 60 percent of Lapu-Lapu City's water needs. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Officers and engineers of the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) are scheduled to replace the rotten steel bar support of their main pipe under the sidewalk of the old Mandaue-Mactan Bridge. The pipe supplies 60 percent of Lapu-Lapu City’s water needs. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

A leader of the Cebu business community called on both the city governments of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu and other agencies to find ways to solve the traffic problem in the two cities now that repairs at the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge were suspended.

Thinking of alternative solutions to solving traffic should have been a priority even before the bridge repairs started, said Ma. Teresa Chan, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).

But she said there was no use crying over spilled milk, and both the private and public sector should be proactive in finding solutions to the traffic condition in the two cities.

Chan said the traffic congestion could become horrendously bad, as shown in the two days that the bridge was closed on Feb. 8 and 9.

“Let’s not make anymore so much fuss about it but think of ways to mitigate the consequences,” she said.

Businesses who are members of CCCI will be affected by the traffic because it has members not only within Cebu City but also in Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Talisay City and Cordova town, Chan noted.

At present, the chamber has between 710 to 715 members. Of all the suggestions that have been given, Chan said the most favored among chamber members would be to temporarily increase the number of ferries or barges crossing between mainland Cebu  and Mactan Island via the Mactan Channel.

She said additional ports could also be identified in the Mandaue and Mactan areas in order to spread out the volume of passengers taking sea trips.

Chan said the entrepreneurs could also take advantage of the situation by offering transportation or courier services to the general public.

Chan said CCCI is drafting a traffic solution proposal on these points that it would send to the Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu city governments and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) is also waiting to schedule a meeting with the mayors of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu to present their proposals, MCCI president Donato Busa said.

Florentino Nimor, executive director of Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue (TEAM), said they would not come up with alternative traffic management solutions until DPWH could come up with a final decision on when it would resume the bridge’s repair.

“It will only add confusion. We will not release solutions unless we can determine exactly the circumstances and problems affecting the bridge repair. We will wait for DPWH to give details on timeline, methodology, and construction before we apply the traffic management,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) said it was trying to convince anew the contractor handling the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge repair to work on the pipe support of its water transmission line attached to the structure.

Lawyer Jorge Gabriente,  MCWD’s  assistant general manager for technical services, said he met with a representative of Jegma Construction and Development Corp. last Friday.

MCWD proposed that hot-dipped galvanized iron (GI) steel instead of stainless steel would be used to prop up the water pipeline.

The need to protect the water pipeline, which transmits water to 60 percent of consumers in Lapu-Lapu City, has stalled the P129-million project to repair the 44-year-old bridge, which was contracted by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to Jegma Construction.

Gabriente said MCWD has wanted Jegma to undertake the pipeline support work since they were already on site and had been in negotiation with Jegma since October last year.

However, on Feb. 9,  Jegma wrote to MCWD saying it was declining the job because it has no experience in installing stainless steel to support the pipes.

By changing the material to GI steel, Gabriente said they hoped that Jegma would now agree to take on the job.

He said that while stainless steel would be the ideal material for the project as it would not rust, using coated GI steel would still protect the pipeline.

Moreover, it would be the fastest way to address the problem, he said.

The employees of Ouano Wharf  in Barangay Looc, Mandaue City have, meanwhile, started cleaning of the wharf.

Donnie Redoble, a wharf foreman, said they received instructions from the wharf management to clear the area.

But he did not know if it was intended to accommodate ferries that would likely ply the Mactan Channel once the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge is closed for repair.

Vilma Ouano, a member of the family that operates the wharf, however, said her family was still discussing the proposal to allow ferries and barges to dock at the wharf.

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